Is it Safe for Babies to Sleep on Nursing Pillows?

We all remember a much simpler time before all of the baby gadgets and gizmos were invented. Depending on what year you were born, it’s possible that your parents didn’t even have the technology available to know your gender before you arrived. I often hear my dad talking about how “back in his day they just strapped the baby down in the front seat and hoped for the best.” We have all heard the phrase, “We didn’t have that stuff when I was a kid and I turned out fine.” However, over the past 25 years, there have been so many advances in modern medicine thanks to the studies that have been conducted.

The world we live in today is faced with a lot more rules than those that were present in 1985. One question that parents are challenged with is, "is it safe for newborns to sleep on a nursing pillow?” There will come a time when breastfeeding that your baby will finally fall asleep for the first time in 12 hours and you breathe a sigh of relief. Can you leave your baby on the nursing pillow so that you can finally go take a shower?

Is it safe for baby to sleep on a nursing pillow?

The answer to that is a definite no.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no pillows of any kind should be used in cribs. Unfortunately, as convenient of a tool the nursing pillow can be, your baby should never be left to sleep on it. In 2015, ABC 27 News in central Pennsylvania reported that the local coroner attributed three infant deaths to the misuse of crescent-shaped pillows. “The baby could slide down, and if they baby slides down, it’s airway can be cut off,” Wendy O’Shea director of cribs for kids with Pinnacle Health warned ABC27. “The baby could accidentally roll, and even if it just rolls on its side the airway can be cut off."

Graham Hetrick was the coroner in each of the Pennsylvania infant death cases. After performing autopsies and x-rays, he concluded that each of the deaths were caused by cerebral asphyxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain. Hetrick told reporters at PennLive that parents of all the babies had been using the same type of crescent-shaped pillow in their cribs or bassinets, and the babies may have been napping on them. Hetrick advised anyone using these kinds of pillows to keep the baby under observation and not allow them to nap on the pillows.

Create a safe sleeping environment for baby instead

As tempting as it may be when your baby finally falls asleep to leave them where they lay, it is imperative that the baby is moved to a safe sleeping space, even if just moving them off of the pillow, or sliding it out from underneath them. It’s a small measure that you can take to ensure your baby’s safety and it’s really just not worth the risk. We all know how frustrating it can be to move a sleeping baby and have them wake up, but there are a number of measures you can use to help soothe them back to sleep in a safe location.

Information provided in blogs should not be used as a substitute for medical care or consultation.